The Changing Seasons: July 2020

img_0197

“By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear.” — George Herbert. Early morning, Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I consider it a success in life that I can accept (if not entirely understand) the ebb and flow of my emotional state. I’ve learned to recognise when I’m struggling, and not to make the bad times worse by beating myself up about having a bad time.

I’ve also learned that eventually (so far) I will find something — however small — that triggers joy and that a little turn of the screw in the right direction can re-set the machine and get the cogs moving again.

July, it has to be said, has been a month largely lacking in cog action.

A short road-trip (in lieu of visiting my dad) provided an opportunity to read, think and relax away from all the usual chores and responsibilities. I didn’t venture too far from home, and despite the rain and school holidays, enjoyed re-visiting Hamilton and the small towns of the Hauraki Plains. It struck me though, that even as we’re being told the country is open for business, Covid 19 has taken a huge toll on many small communities, especially in the tourist-dependent hospitality sector. Those cafes that were open at all were operating shortened hours — which led to some “interesting” ad hoc meals.

Even the wonderful Hamilton Gardens seemed straggly and bare, with several of the themed gardens closed. I know that is partly a consequence of the time of year, but suspect the vastly reduced number of visitors has provided an opportunity for low-impact maintenance and repair.

Since my return, I’ve pottered about and made a little progress on a few projects, but generally got to the end of each day and wondered where the time had gone.

As the month-end approaches, I’m feeling a sense of being able to draw a line under July and move into August with some enthusiasm. I’ve got two weeks to prepare for the first “posh” dinner I’ve hosted in years, and I suspect I’ll be testing a few practice dishes on The Big T (like he’s going to complain).

I’ve also set myself the challenge of doing one creative, just-for-fun thing every day in August (is Arty August too cheesy a title). I have a few biggish projects that can only be done in stages, but think I need to also set little goals — like a daily doodle or something similar. In announcing my intention, I’ve made myself accountable; if only to my end-of-August Changing Seasons self.

 

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to find out how July played out for them:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Little Pieces of Me

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Sarah at Art Expedition

Suzanne from Life at No 22

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Gill at Talking Thailand

The Changing Seasons, June 2020

museum matariki0623

Matariki lights at Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Matariki is the Maori term for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades or The Seven Sisters. Matariki rises during Pipiri (June/July) and marks mid-winter and the Maori New Year.

In recent years, Matariki has begun to be properly celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand with many cities and communities holding festivals. This year, Auckland Council has scaled back many of the planned events and shifted others online. It was lovely then, to see the Auckland Museum lit up for the duration of the festival. The Harbour Bridge is also lit, but we’ve yet to have a clear night for me to try and photograph it.

According to Te Ara (Encyclopedia of NZ):

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

There hasn’t been a great deal of singing and dancing in the ZimmerBitch whare (pronounced like farrie and meaning house), and not many photos taken either.

But there’s been plenty of eating, so for this month’s Changing Seasons post I’m giving you a recipe.

Anyone who joined me for afternoon tea recently will recognise it, but it proved such a hit with my (real life) dinner guests that I’m confident in sharing it.

Squash, fennel and orange soup

Adapted from a recipe in Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi (1) Serves 4-6 people

bowl soup and bread0613

Squash, fennel and orange soup, with homemade sourdough. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Ingredients

50ml olive oil

2 fennel bulbs

1.2kg pumpkin or butternut squash

1 litre vegetable stock

1tsp harissa (2)

small pinch saffron threads (3)

1 large or two small oranges

sea salt and black pepper

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C
  2. Trim fern from fennel bulbs and roughly chop
  3. Peel squash sand chop into small pieces (2-3cm)
  4. Put fennel and squash pieces in roasting dish, add olive oil, about a teaspoon of sea salt and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Toss to coat the veges in oil
  6. Cook for around 20-25 minutes at 200°C; until everything is soft and caramelised. Depending on your oven, you may want to check it before then to make sure the edges aren’t burning.
  7. While veges are roasting, finely grate orange (you want about 2tsp zest) and squeeze juice (4) from the fruit.
  8. Put stock, harissa, saffron threads and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  9. Remove 1-2 ladles of liquid and set aside.
  10. Remove roasted veges from oven and add to pot of stock.
  11. Use the set-aside liquid to moisten and scrape up the
    caramelised bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add this to the pot (5) .
  12. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat, add orange juice and use a hand blender to blitz until completely smooth.
  14. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds (6) and cashew cream (7) .
soup and bread0616

Squash, fennel and orange soup. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Notes:
  1. There is a version of this soup — slightly different to that which is in Simple — on Ottolenghi’s website. It includes a recipe for caramelised pumpkin seeds.
  2. Harissa is available from Middle Eastern shops, and some supermarkets. It varies a lot in taste and chilli strength, so you will probably want to experiment with how much you add. I would start with 1 teaspoon, and perhaps add more to the stock once it’s warmed up a bit and you’ve tasted it.
  3. Saffron gives the soup a distinctive, earty taste, but if you don’t have it (or don’t like the taste), I wouldn’t worry — leave it out.
  4. In Ottolenghi’s recipt in Simple, he adds 180g crème fraiche to the soup before blending it. Because I was making the soup for vegan friends, I omitted that, and used the orange juice instead to thin the soup.I think it also adds a nice amount of acid and tastes really good. If it is still too thick, you could add more orange juice, or a little water or stock.
  5. If you follow my suggestion to de glaze the roasting pan with stock, you will get dark flecks in the soup from the caramalised bits of veges. These taste good. But if you’re aiming for a more elegant look you could leave this step out.
  6. The simplest way to toast pumpkin seeds is to put a single layer in a heated, heavy frying pan. Toss them for a few minutes until they start to colour and pop. Tip into a bowl and add a good pinch of salt (and a teaspoon of olive oil if you like).  In the Ottolenghi recipe, the seeds were mixed with maple syrup and chilli flakes and roasted to make more of a praline. 
  7. I wanted to make this a vegan dish, so as well as omitting the crème fraiche (above), I made some cashew cream and put it on the table for my guests to add if they wished. 

Besides making soup

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to see how June played out for them:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Suzanne at Life at No. 22

A Wonderful Sheep

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

LadyLeeManila

Katy at Wanderlust and Wonderment joins us this month

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

XingfuMama

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Gill at Talking Thailand

Brian at Bushboy’s World

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, April 2020

img_7017

No hamburger for me. I celebrated the end of Level 4 Covid 19 lock-down by getting my feet wet. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The concept of The Changing Seasons should be more appropriate this month than ever before.

Aotearoa New Zealand has, in the last few days, moved from the highest level of Covid 19 lock-down, to one in which a great deal more freedom of movement is possible, and where a large number of businesses have been able to re-open.

In some ways, nothing will ever be the same again. But as I woke to the sound of early morning traffic, to read about ridiculously long queues of cars and people outside fast-food outlets, any hope that 33 days of lock-down would promote reflection about how we might live better lives has been dashed. It seems that we are a nation of impatient, car-addicted, junk-food guzzlers.

Though I may not have joined the 3am queue for a burger or three (who does that?), nor have I learned a language, mastered the guitar or even cleaned my ovens. In fact, I can’t really point to anything in particular and say “I did that as a result of Covid-19.”

Apart from a few days at the beginning when I almost believed that Some-Good-Will-Come-From-This, I’ve really just spent the last month fretting about work, income, my son, real estate prices and how long it would take before we collectively start trashing the planet again.

And I think my gallery of images for the month reflects my mood; a bit of sunshine, a lot of dying leaves — and a trip to the beach this morning.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit Pauline’s beautiful garden at Living in Paradise. She and Jack have been hard at work and as always it’s a visual delight.

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani shares some thoughts and interesting images from her month in Rayong, Thailand.

A Wonderful Sheep brings us a lovely hopeful post with beautiful images of her “side of the mountain” in glorious springtime.

Tish at Writer on the Edge has been busy in her garden and allotment. Please pop over and see the fruits of her green fingers.

Sarah at Art Expedition has not only taken some beautiful photos, but also baked the most delicious-looking ….  No. I’m not going to tell you — you have to visit her post to see for yourself.

Come and enjoy a walk with Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind. As always her photos are lovely and her thoughts clear and well worth hearing.

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth has worked her creative editing magic on some lovely images of the wildlife around her home.

Gill at Talking Thailand shares a walk and some spring-time flowers in the garden.

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc has shared some thoughts and images from lock-down in Tasmania.

Darren at The Arty Plantsman has shared some joyous images from his garden and you must visit to see his beautiful pencil drawing.

Visit Little Pieces of Me  to see some beautiful nature photography, and some thoughts on the times we’re living in.

Ju-Lynn at All Things Bright and Beautiful  will make you so hungry looking at all the delicious food her family has been making in the lock-down.

Yvette at Priorhouse blog shares some recipes, including a chia seed pudding.

 

 

The Changing Seasons, March 2020

img_6831 A moment of reflection. Spider monkey, Auckland Zoo. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Welcome to the third fourth attempt I’ve made to write this Changing Seasons post.

It’s not that there is nothing to say about March 2020; just that I’m still trying to process an extraordinary 31 days that began with a visit to Auckland Zoo and ended with me spending an entire day trying to buy groceries (to be fair, I was shopping for two households).

Standing in a queue that snaked around the supermarket car-park, I caught a tiny glimpse of what everyday life must have been like for older friends and family members who lived through World War II rationing, or in the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. The difference is that when I reached the front of the queue, there was still food to buy — and at a price I could afford.

It’s been just over a month since the first case of Covid 19 was reported in Aotearoa New Zealand. Even though we’d watched and read about what was happening overseas,  life carried on in much the same rhythm for most of us for another couple of weeks.

But March has been a month of two halves; and all of a sudden, the number of new cases each day began to rise alarmingly, our borders were closed to all but returning nationals, and finally on March 26 the nation was placed under a four week rahui (1)

My thoughts about this extraordinary situation are muddled and constantly changing, so instead of inflicting my confusion upon you, I am simply going to share photos from the slightly less weird part of the month — when visits to the zoo and community fun days were still possible and normal.

The Stillwater Raft Race was held on March 17th; a reminder of how small communities are so good at getting together and having fun. T and I stumbled upon this accidentally, thinking we’d just go for a quiet walk along the estuary path.

Both T and I largely grew up in Auckland, so zoo visits have been part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Today’s zoo, with its emphasis on animal welfare and involvement in several conservation projects, is a world away from our horrible memories of bears and big cats endlessly pacing small cages.

The latest project is a South East Asian Jungle Track — a massive new development that is providing a more natural high canopy habitat for orangutan and siamangs, with further developments for tigers, otters, crocodiles and other Asian reptiles. It was due to open about now, but as the zoo is also under rahui, the animals are able to explore their new home without human visitors.

And now, with my horizons narrowed for at least a few weeks, I treasure and enjoy my garden even more.

IMG_7737 Kakabeak (clianthus maximus). Grown from seed and looking stronger every day. Image: Su Leslie 2020
IMG_7720 Kowhai seedlings (Sephora microphylla). Reforesting NZ one roasting dish full of plants at a time. Image: Su Leslie 2020
img_6836 And still we have tomatoes. Su Leslie 2020

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

A Wonderful Sheep

Lady Lee Manila

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

Sarah at Art Expedition

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful


  1. Rahui is a Maori word which means to put in place a temporary ban or restriction on an area, resource, stretch of water — or in this case a nation of people. It is a form of protection, and seems like a much kinder and more positive word than “lock-down.”

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, February 2020

img_6650

Detail, ‘Contained and Protected’, sculpture in bronze, Marte Szirmay. Sculpture in the Gardens, 2019-2020; winner McConnell Family Supreme Award. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Humans are incredibly skilled at both making, and understanding symbols. Indeed, our cultures rely on it.

The symbols I respond to most are generally visual; paintings, sculptures, photographs — but especially sculptures.

img_6651

‘Contained and Protected’, sculpture in bronze, Marte Szirmay. Sculpture in the Gardens, 2019-2020; winner McConnell Family Supreme Award. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I saw this piece a couple of weeks ago in an exhibition at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. I find its simplicity both beautiful and powerful. The judges who awarded it the exhibition’s supreme prize had this to say:

“This beautiful disk, fastened to its base by a bronze cord, acts as a talisman of guardianship in the garden bed of critically endangered native plants. It is a superb and accomplished linking of form to site, evoking both the preciousness of our botanical heritage and the idea of keeping it safe forever. The work is placed near the entrance to the Threatened Native Plants garden … ” News, Auckland Botanic Gardens.

I won’t pretend my response to the work was analytical or erudite. I just felt — and continue to feel — uplifted by it.

I had a similar experience with a painting I saw on Instagram. So much so, I bought it.

img_6649

‘Little Cottage in a Summer Field’, Natalie Towler. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The artist is local (New Zealand) and also makes wonderful small sculptures of houses (you can see them here).

I didn’t fully realise it until I was sorting photos for The Changing Seasons, but the colour palate of the landscape around me right now, is the same as in Natalie’s painting.

I’ve mentioned a few times this month that parts of New Zealand, including Auckland, are in drought at the moment. It’s particularly noticeable where land has been cleared for animal grazing. On a recent trip to Raglan, we drove through mile after mile of fragile, brown grass; broken only by occasional stands of trees and irrigated fields of maize — presumably being grown as animal feed.

At home, I’ve been incredibly grateful for our rainwater tank which has allowed me to keep my plants alive without resorting to “city water.”

I’ve managed to sustain “proactive hopefulness” largely by not engaging with mainstream news media and spending as much time as possible in my little garden.

As always, I end the month with a list of projects that excite me, but in which I’ve barely made a dent. I can partly blame a cold which hit me harder than expected and has clung on far too long. But I suspect that I perhaps need to take stock of my life and prioritize my time better.

And of course, in that spirit (NOT), I bought some lovely writing paper and envelopes so that I can send real, actual letters to people.

I could explain why, but I think it deserves a separate post … to come.

img_6647

Got the pen, got the stationery, found my glasses and made a cuppa. Dear …. Image: Su Leslie 2020

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Darren at  The Arty Plantsman

Little Pieces of Me

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Tracy at Reflections of An Untidy Mind

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

A Shared Space

Pauline at Living in Paradise

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboys World

Gill at Talking Thailand

 

The Changing Seasons, January 2020

img_6470

Kowhai seedlings. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The month/year started well enough. Having got through Christmas without the usual stresses, I gave myself time to think about, and write down, some goals and plans. Against the backdrop of a troubled world, they are very modest and focused on how to live simply and gently. My strategy, I decided, would be summed up as proactive hopefulness.

With Auckland emptied out for the holidays, the Big T and I made an effort to enjoy the city’s parks and beaches.

We were doing so well …

Then on January 5th smoke from the Australian bush-fires combined with atmosphere conditions to turn Auckland’s mid-afternoon’s skies orange. By 5pm it was impossible to see without artificial lighting. It seemed the future had arrived and it was apocalyptic.

img_6450

Lights on at 5pm. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Since then, the smoke has moved on — across the Pacific to Chile and beyond. Life has continued, and as holiday-makers have returned to fill the city with noise and traffic congestion, I’ve spent more time at home, much of it in my garden.

In the end, January has been a month of small things — both joys and disappointments.

I’ve managed to keep the gifted hydrangeas alive, and indeed they are thriving. Sadly, lack of water has killed some of my kowhai seedlings, and none of the latest batch of seeds has germinated yet. But the fruit trees and herb gardens are abundant, so my challenge is to put the harvest to good use.

An almost total absence of rain means we are being even more careful with water. Interestingly, it doesn’t feel like a hardship and I’m actually rather proud of my conservation efforts.

A chance meeting with an old friend who is developing an off-grid organic farm proved inspiring; giving us a chance to see what can be done — and how much work is involved. Our search for rural land has intensified.

As I write this, The Big T is texting me from Adelaide (South Australia) where the plane he arrived on has been sitting on the tarmac for almost an hour while heavily masked and suited medical personnel attend to several apparently unwell passengers who may be suffering from the coronavirus. He assures me that the authorities are just being “super vigilant” but it is hard not to worry.

img_6462

Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. — Marcus Aurelius

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to see what January 2020 was like for them.

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Marilyn at Serendipity seeking intelligent life on Earth

A Wonderful Sheep

Darren, The Arty Plantsman

Sarah at Art Expedition

Little Pieces of Me

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, who also posted this which fits well with the Changing Seasons

Brian at Bushboys World

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Joining us for the first time, Wanderlust and Wonderment

Gill at Talking Thailand

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, December 2019

img_6179

Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I’ve struggled to write this post.

As the year has worn on, I — like so many people — have become increasingly angry, sad, frustrated, disillusioned and, frankly, exhausted by the world around me.

Like many, I fluctuate between bouts of active optimism and periods of despair.

Despair’s had the upper hand this month, with the result that I’ve done very little and taken fewer photos than usual. Fewer still I’m happy with.

A pre-Christmas road-trip to see my dad and stepmother produced the best shots, and confirmed that I really like both Whanganui and the surrounding countryside — even (or especially) in stormy weather.

The approach of Christmas meant my son could be persuaded to pose for a photo — Grandma insisted and that’s pretty much the only reason he’ll agree. He’s successfully completed university for another year and is working long hours over the summer — looking forward to finishing his degree next year.

img_6190 The boy-child. Image: Su Leslie 2019

As always, some of my favourite images are of the small things — generally plants. We harvested the first of the plums just after Christmas; the tinsel bird-deterrent having done its job. The second plum tree is more fruit-laden, but they won’t be ripe for another week or two.

My principal gardening success at the moment seems to be with seedlings. The Kakabeak I’ve been nurturing for a few months is thriving, and it looks like almost all of the Kowhai seeds I harvested from our tree have germinated. Even the loquat seedlings are doing well. Gathered from a tree at my son’s flat, they took about three months to germinate but are now growing fast. The travelling hydrangeas are holding their own — but barely — and I may have to look beyond Google for advice.

I’m glad that 2019 is coming to an end.

I don’t normally buy in to the “New Year resolutions” thing, but this year I will be taking this socially-sanctioned opportunity to re-start and move into 2020 with the energy and enthusiasm I know I’m going to need.

img_6189 Image: Su Leslie 2019

Wishing you all good health, good friends, laughter, love, and the energy you will need in your own lives.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Brian at Bushboys World

Sarah at Art Expedition

Marilyn at Serendipity seeking intelligent life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

Jude from Life at the Edge

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Pauline at Living in Paradise

A wonderful Sheep

Gill at Talking Thailand

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, October 2019

img_5759

Kakabeak seedling No. 1. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I just looked back over my past few Changing Seasons posts, and this will be the third consecutive month I’ve talked about how cold and rainy and windy it’s been.

Consequently, once again I haven’t strayed far from home, and have taken very few photos. The silver lining though is that I’ve spent time extra working on the horticulture course I’m taking and have passed the first paper.

If I had to sum October up, I’d say it’s been a growing month. Lots of the seeds I’ve planted have germinated — including a second kakabeak. New plants that we’ve been able to shelter are thriving and we should be able to pick the first tomatoes quite soon. My gardening knowledge has grown, and with it my confidence.

I’d still really like some sunshine soon though. Especially as I’m off to New Plymouth tomorrow to explore the Taranaki Garden Festival and Sustainable Backyard Trail.

So apologies in advance if I’m a little slow to update the Changing Seasons blogroll. With luck I’ll be filling my brain with free-range, sustainably grown, nutrient-dense ideas (and my tummy with yummy produce).

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Jude at Life at the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful\

A Wonderful Sheep

Donna at DJ Ranch

Brian at Bushboys World

And a huge welcome to …

Amy at The world in a Book

Tatiana at Travelways

Margaret at From Pyrenees to Penines

Horse Addict

… all of whom are joining us for the first time this month.

 

The Changing Seasons, August 2019

img_5265

In an extremely dreary month, I resorted to buying cut flowers to inject a little colour. Image: Su Leslie 2019

August is often a month in which I feel like hibernating. This year, with rain every day (yep, actually every single day), cold winds and heavy grey skies, I really haven’t felt  like venturing far from home. I know I’ve been busy at home — I’m just not quite sure what I’ve been busy doing.

My photos offer a few clues.

There has been a lot of baking this month; mostly sourdough-based. I’ve been making a sourdough wholewheat bread for a few years, and was getting quite reliably good results until a few months ago. My most recent loaves aren’t developing the gluten properly, and I’m obsessively testing variations on my recipe to understand what is going wrong.

I’m still not sure, but in the process of experimenting I’ve made a lot of sourdough pancakes/hotcakes (excellent for breakfast with berries), some good banana bread, a tasty wheat/rye loaf — and the best basic San Fransisco-style sourdough of my bread-making “career.”

In other news:

I discovered the multiple-exposure function on my camera and have had fun with that.

A bunch of supermarket tulips brought some much-needed floral inspiration as the weather has hammered my neighbourhood’s gardens.

In Whanganui last month I found three bags of dyed, carded wool for felting at $4 per bag. I couldn’t resist buying them, and have had a couple of attempts at wet-felting. I’m not at all happy with the results so far, but — like sourdough baking — I am determined to learn this skill, even if it’s only to make myself a scarf.

And in a moment of (probable) insanity; I decided to refurbish our dining chairs; bought from IKEA over 20 years ago.

I started out just thinking I’d smarten up an ugly, but comfortable $5 op-shop chair. Then I realised the colours I had in mind would work really well with our dining room furniture.

Somehow, I transitioned from that one little “paint-and-upholstery” job to making new seat frames for six chairs (bonus: I learned how to use a jig-saw); stripping and painting six grubby, waxed, wooden frames (plus one that was varnished); and upholstering seven chairs in turquoise and white striped canvas. Only one is completed so far — and boy have I learned a lot from it!

Not captured in the photographic record; I’ve also read more than usual (fiction and non-fiction); and completed the first assignment in a NZ Certificate in Horticulture course I signed up to. As you do …

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Take a look at these lovely bloggers’ August posts:

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Jude from Life at the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

DJ Ranch

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Brian at  Bushboy’s World

Gill at Talking Thailand

A wonderful sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, July 2019

Photo 30-07-19, 3 53 18 PM Tongiriro River, Turangi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

My July began and ended with travel, leaving the in-between bit less than memorable.

Work took the Big T to Melbourne, and I joined him for a long, sunny weekend. Melbourne is a city I know well, so seldom do touristy things there. Instead I’m happy to walk the different neighbourhoods, visit galleries, drink far too much coffee, and enjoy the vibe.

Last week I drove to Whanganui to see my father, tacking on a side trip to Palmerston North and an overnight stay in Turangi on the way home.

Whanganui’s an attractive city with a thriving arts scene (definitely a bonus), but what makes the trip even better is that it takes me through some of the North Island’s most rugged and beautiful scenery.

Looking at the photos I’ve taken this month, street art and stunning sunsets seem to predominate. I was about to sigh wistfully and say it would be wonderful if every month offered up such treasures — but I suspect I really just need to look harder.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Please check out the Changing Seasons — July 2019 for these awesome bloggers:

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Sarah at Art Expedition

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Jude at Life at the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Brian at Bushboys World

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

DJ Ranch

A Wonderful Sheep

Ju Lyn at All things bright and beautiful

Gill at Talking Thailand