Arnold River Ramblings http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs Living the good life on New Zealand's West Coast Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:01:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Remembering Cliff http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/remembering-cliff/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/remembering-cliff/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:01:13 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3053 In this post I want to show Cliff enjoying life. I have so many photos it was hard to decide which ones to use. They will be placed in no particular order. This interesting picture shows us looking out of … Continue reading ]]>

Cliff and Clare enjoying a sunset together, February 2013.

In this post I want to show Cliff enjoying life. I have so many photos it was hard to decide which ones to use. They will be placed in no particular order.

This interesting picture shows us looking out of our kitchen window, peeking through the dark of the mountain across the paddock with the sunset glowing above us like a curtain. It was taken by our friend Graham.

Christmas Day 2013.

We liked going on a walk on Christmas day then going home for a special dinner. This bridge is between the Pororari River track and the Inland Pack track near Punakaiki. On each side of the bridge are good places to stop for lunch.

December 1990.

For 20 years, every second Christmas we flew to Baltimore to spend time with my family. This was taken at the house I grew up in.

Shifting topsoil April 2010.

Anyone who had been here lately would  have found it nearly impossible to believe the difference between then and 2017. Amazing what hard work can do.

Washing windows, May 2010.

Cliff washed the outside of the windows and I washed the inside which didn’t get dirty as easily. It took three hours to wash all of them. I was inspired by this picture to wash a few the other day.

Relaxing at the Grand Canyon, July 2009.

After we retired we no longer had to visit my family in the northern winter.  In 2009 we took the train from Oakland to Baltimore with a side trip to the Grand Canyon.

What a great day we had.

Moving more soil, October 2009.

Same T-shirt but a different job. This time Cliff is moving soil to our lawn area on the other side of the house next to the shed.

Practicing the piano, May 2009.

Cliff loved playing his piano and listening to classical music, especially piano music. I had been working upstairs that night and Cliff was so intent on his playing he hadn’t turned on any lights except the one above his music. When I went downstairs I couldn’t resist taking this photo.

January 2006 at TypeShop.

Cliff and I started our business, TypeShop Ltd, in 1988. At his previous job he’d typeset Break-In, the magazine of the New Zealand Amateur Radio Operators Association. When he left, they followed him to TypeShop where we produced Break-In for almost 20 years. In 2006 they took this photo for an article on how the magazine was put together.

That’s the cover on Cliff’s monitor and images for the  magazine are on his his copy stand.

On holiday in Whangarei, December 2003.

For about 15 years when we lived in the center of Christchurch we did not have a car. We lived within three blocks of our offices and easy walking distance to most places. In 2003 we bought our first car and drove all the way up to Kaitaia, stopping at various places along the way.

The Quarry Arts Centre is at a decommissioned quarry in the hills above Whangarei and well worth a visit.

Crow River near Arthur’s Pass, April 2012.

We went on our first overnight in September 2011 and then wasted no time in chalking up quite a few more.

Cliff, flying his drone, November 23 2016.

Cliff got his drone for an early Christmas present not too long before he died. He flew it quite a few times and enjoyed it immensely. We learned that gardens look a lot better from above—weeds aren’t visible.

Our brother-in-law, Sam, put together this tribute to Cliff.

Cutting a new path, December 2013.

Cliff cut this path to make it easier for me to weed wack this area between our house and the river. The blue tubing was put in to direct runoff under the path.

This junction is about 1.5k from our house. Photo July 2012.

We used to go “road walking” for exercise, this was on one of our routes.

This cheeky kea was fearless in Nelson Lakes National Park, October 2012.

Kea, New Zealand’s alpine parrot, are well known for destroying anything they can get their beaks on. This one hung around all day hoping we would leave so he could chew up our gear.

Crow Hut, February 2013.

We liked the tramp to Crow Hut in 2012 so much we led a group up the following year.

The boot pole on the Heaphy Track, February 2012.

Luckily we didn’t need to shop for boots on the Heaphy the way other trampers had—we even met someone whose boots had fallen apart on the track.

Building the fire pit, October 2011.

All of the stones in the wall came from our vegetable garden—all of our ground is mostly river stones. Here Cliff is shoveling in gravel for the floor.

Cape Reinga, December 2003.

One of the highlights of our first car trip was the top of the North Island. We went on a bus tour from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga.

Sand dune tobogganing near 90 Mile Beach, January 2004.

Sand dune sledding is part of many bus tours that go up to Cape Reinga. Cliff loved it.

Franz Josef, August 2012.

We took advantage of a winter special for a weekend at Franz Josef where we went for some day walks.

Mousie, always cheerful.

Cliff made this little wooden mouse in a woodturning class. Compare the smiles.

Cliff’s service sheet cover.

Cliff left us way too soon. I still can’t believe he is not here with me but I have lots of photos to remind  me of our happy times together.

Enjoying a meal, May 2013.

In 2013 we had a great trip to Europe. This picture was taken at Casalinga, a restaurant in Florence.

I thought I’d finish with such a happy photo of Cliff. I can’t help but smile when I look at this one.

 

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Rainbow July 17 2017 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/rainbow-july-17-2017/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 05:06:07 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3049 Around 4:30 this afternoon I walked out to the letterbox to see if there was any mail. It had stopped raining this  morning so I was surprised by the big double rainbow I saw on my way back to the … Continue reading ]]>

Spectacular rainbow

Around 4:30 this afternoon I walked out to the letterbox to see if there was any mail. It had stopped raining this  morning so I was surprised by the big double rainbow I saw on my way back to the house. I couldn’t see rain anywhere. Now less than a half hour later, it’s pouring.

Chinese tourists like New Zealand because of the clean air, starry skies and recently I learned, rainbows. They should come to the West Coast. We have lots of rainbows but they never fail to delight.

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Planting at Arnold Acres http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/planting-at-arnold-acres/ Tue, 02 May 2017 09:42:37 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3029 Any place that isn’t either easy to mow or part of a view is fair game for filling in with native grasses or trees. This area is a very wet bank on the slope down to the river. The plant … Continue reading ]]>

Filling in the gaps

Any place that isn’t either easy to mow or part of a view is fair game for filling in with native grasses or trees. This area is a very wet bank on the slope down to the river.

A few of the new plantings

The plant at the bottom has been surrounded with a small piece of black plastic to keep the weeds down. Cliff and I used to put a layer of cardboard over the soil but wekas shredded the cardboard in short order. We didn’t find that out until we had planted about 50 plants—what a mess.

Three bamboo stakes are put through holes in the plastic to anchor green plastic sleeves which protect the plants from hares. A little fertilizer is put into the holes and some compost is added if needed to fill in holes left from removing stones.

Planted a year ago

This little lemonwood was planted a while ago so I removed half of the green sleeve to let the young tree grow more easily.

A good spot for a flax?

This is another area that was calling out for a flax to keep the bank from eroding. After starting to clear the spot with the string trimmer I heard the telltale sound of plastic crunching. It looked like a good spot because it was a good spot—a flax had been planted a few years ago and swallowed up by long grass.

The scraggly, but rescued, flax

Hopefully the roots are stronger than the leaves and the flax will start growing again soon.

Not gopher holes

When a stone sits high enough above the soil to be scraped by the mower blades it has to go.  These are just two of around ten holes left by stones removed with a crowbar on one afternoon. The holes then get filled in with spare soil.

One that got away—briefly

This stone has the telltale mark of having been hit. It’s a sound I never want to hear. This stone is a little bit like an iceberg with only a small part above ground.

Too big to pull out

This was a candidate for getting scraped so I uncovered it but it was too big to budge. The bamboo stake is 600mm long which gives an idea of the size of the stone. Now I’ll have to try another method to get it out or just kill the grass around it so I don’t hit it later.

A pesky pukeko

I’ve been sowing seed to fill in bare spots in the lawn. The seed is coated with bird repellent but there is something about it the pukekos like—maybe the young, tender shoots of new grass.

Retreating temporarily

If I even walk to the front window the birds walk away quickly. When I go outside they run and if I clap my hands they fly away. They prefer running to flying but are big scaredy-birds. A short while later they are back again. Never a dull moment here.

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Saving a Hydrangea http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/saving-a-hydrangea/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:48:06 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3016 This was the first hydrangea we planted. Subsequently we planted flaxes and some trees sowed themselves nearby. The hydrangea had been swallowed up and had almost disappeared. I was reminded of it every week or so when  I emptied the … Continue reading ]]>

Happy in its new home

This was the first hydrangea we planted. Subsequently we planted flaxes and some trees sowed themselves nearby.

Camouflaged by flaxes and trees

The hydrangea had been swallowed up and had almost disappeared. I was reminded of it every week or so when  I emptied the compost. Finally, last week, I decided it was now or never to rescue the scraggly shrub.

On its way

The little ride-on mower trailer comes in handy for all sorts of jobs. This load contained a bag of compost, a planting spade, fork, fertilizer, 1.3m crowbar, knee pads and other tools as well as the shrub soaking in a bucket of water.

Prunings

I wasn’t able to dig the plant up without damaging the roots so about 80% of the top had to go.

Resting on a bale of pea straw

The hole was dug and the plant was just about ready to go in.

Stones come with the territory around here

Because the little shrub needed some TLC, I dug a large hole and removed the stones now piled up on the right. Over a half bag of compost (20+ liters) filled the void.

Ready to grow

All tucked up under pea straw, the hydrangea is ready to rest up over winter and start growing in the spring.

 

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Red Roses for Cliff on our Anniversary http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/red-roses-for-cliff-on-our-anniversary/ Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:14:59 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3009 April 24 would have been our 27th anniversary. We decided to get get married the day before Anzac Day so we’d always have a day off the next day. Once we retired every day was a holiday but the date … Continue reading ]]>

Red roses for Cliff

April 24 would have been our 27th anniversary. We decided to get get married the day before Anzac Day so we’d always have a day off the next day. Once we retired every day was a holiday but the date made it easy to remember.

Because of a long spell of bad weather over the whole country I was lucky to get the last six red roses in Greymouth. A special on red roses at the supermarket had been advertised before Anzac Day but was withdrawn due to no flowers available. Cliff’s roses came from Courtyard Florist, a small recently opened shop in Greymouth.

Flowers from Cliff

Cliff loved surprising me with flowers. When we had TypeShop he would often go out on an errand and return with a bouquet. He’d get them for occasions or just because he walked by a florist.

Cliff’s flowers change weekly now

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Memorial Tree for Cliff http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/memorial-tree-for-cliff/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/memorial-tree-for-cliff/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:44:25 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=3000 Our good friends Patty and Alex, who live in Italy, wanted to give me a tree to honor Cliff’s memory. Patty spoke to the owner of our local nursery and decided a Japanese maple would be a nice choice. They … Continue reading ]]>

Cliff’s beautiful tree—planted on his birthday.

Our good friends Patty and Alex, who live in Italy, wanted to give me a tree to honor Cliff’s memory. Patty spoke to the owner of our local nursery and decided a Japanese maple would be a nice choice. They have a beautiful shape and Cliff loved the color.

Clare meets Cliff’s tree in December

Two cards from Patty and Alex

Because December is summer here, it was the wrong time of year to plant a tree. It stayed at the nursery until mid March when the weather is better for planting.

The spindly looking things jutting out from the tree are new branches with bud ready for spring.

Digging a hole

This isn’t actually where the tree was to go but it shows what we are up against when digging a hole for any reason. This stone is about 1.5 times the size of a rugby ball. The crowbar, essential for breaking up soil and stones around here, is in the background. There were plenty of stones in the maple tree’s hole ranging from large grapefruit size on down.

My view from inside the house

Japanese maples are hardy but don’t like wind which is a problem around here especially summertime in the afternoon when the wind roars up the valley from the sea. This spot was chosen because it is sheltered from that westerly wind by the house and from the easterly wind by the shed and shrubs. I think the tree will be very happy there.

Thank you Patty and Alex for a wonderful gift.

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Cliff’s Birthday—March 23 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/cliffs-birthday-march-23/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:47:51 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2986 Cliff always loved his birthday. He used to say that March was the best month because it was when he was born. August was the second best month—you can guess why. We both hoped he would have been able to … Continue reading ]]>

Getting right into his birthday cake.

Cliff always loved his birthday. He used to say that March was the best month because it was when he was born. August was the second best month—you can guess why.

We both hoped he would have been able to celebrate this, his 74th birthday, but sadly it was not meant to be.

The simple, temporary, white cross.

Cliff wasn’t even around to celebrate Christmas last year. He was buried on December 12.

December 23, 2016

However, he did get an early Christmas present of a drone. He used it quite a few times over our property at Arnold Acres and really loved flying it.

This cemetery shot was taken on the drive back from Hokitika after I picked up my sister Jane from the airport. She is at the back left and I’m right behind Cliff’s grave with the small white cross.

The permanent headstone, with room for my name.

It wasn’t easy, but I wasted no time in picking out a permanent headstone. Polished black stone might seem unusual but because of the West Coast’s high rainfall, moss would grow on natural stone and this black stone is the hardest, most durable available here. Most have gold writing but I thought that would be too garish for Cliff.

Fresh flowers for Cliff’s birthday

I take Cliff flowers every week but today was special so he got all new flowers, some from our garden—the orange dahlias and sprigs of rosemary which are hidden in this photo but will last, some from a new florist in Greymouth “Courtyard Florist”. These are the gerberas and dark red leucadendrons in the back. I’ve planted a leucadendron and will plant more cutting flowers in the future.

A beautiful spot.

Gladstone Memorial Park is the most beautiful cemetery I’ve seen and it is only about a half hour drive. The Tasman Sea is on one side and beautiful native bush (forest) is on the other. Peaceful and well kept, still, it is hard to believe that Cliff’s body rests there—far, far too soon.

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New Flag http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/new-flag/ Fri, 11 Nov 2016 01:55:44 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2979 2016-11-08-08_flag7The strong New Zealand sun has been fading our flag ever since we erected our flagpole in September of 2015. Last month we sent away to The Flag Shop Ltd for a replacement. In fact, we bought two just to … Continue reading ]]> 2016-11-08-08_flag7

Spot the difference.

The strong New Zealand sun has been fading our flag ever since we erected our flagpole in September of 2015. Last month we sent away to The Flag Shop Ltd for a replacement. In fact, we bought two just to be prepared to change it in another year or so.

Raising the new flag.

Raising the new flag.

We were lucky to have a sunny afternoon when we changed the flags. The old one will go to our local Vinnies op shop where someone will be glad to pick it up for a dollar or two.

Ready for another year.

Ready for another year.

For the first six months or so we raised the flag every morning and took it down in the late afternoon. This year it started to rain in May and barely stopped until August. It isn’t much fun to have a flag ceremony in the rain so we left it in the shed. Now we leave it out all the time, it’s the sun that fades it, not moonglow.

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Roasted Garlic Cloves http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/roasted-garlic-cloves/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/roasted-garlic-cloves/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 09:00:56 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2965 Almost ready to eatIt’s time to plant garlic. Every year we select the biggest garlic cloves from last year’s crop to try to improve our yield. We break up the biggest bulbs and select the fattest cloves. That leaves a lot of cloves … Continue reading ]]> Almost ready to eat

Almost ready to eat

It’s time to plant garlic. Every year we select the biggest garlic cloves from last year’s crop to try to improve our yield. We break up the biggest bulbs and select the fattest cloves. That leaves a lot of cloves that don’t measure up. For several weeks before we want to plant we enjoy roasted garlic cloves with a steak or piece of salmon.

Here’s how we do it.

2016-06-26-16.02.51Select the reject cloves and chop a little off of the root end. After getting tired of odd tasting oranges, we now have a special cutting board for garlic and onions.

2016-06-26-16.02.59The excess papery garlic skins are placed on a paper towel to make clean up easier.

2016-06-26-16.03.50Then the cloves, with their inner skins still attached, are put on a generous sheet of aluminum foil.

2016-06-26-16.04.35Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil over the garlic.

2016-06-26-16.06.24Toss the oil and garlic with your hands until well coated (good for your hands too!).

2016-06-26-16.07.03Fold up the foil and place the packet in a baking tray in case it leaks. Cook at 180°C (roughly 350°F) for about 20–25 minutes or 200°C (400°F) for a little less.  If you don’t want to heat up your oven for this, a benchtop oven works well.

Almost ready to eat

Almost ready to eat

Open the foil packet and let cool for about five minutes—the garlic is hot after being baked.

Squeeze out each clove and put on a serving dish or directly on plates.

2016-06-26-18.35.27The end result—the extra caramelized parts are from being cooked at a higher temperature than usual and added to the already great taste.

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Fresh Cranberries http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/fresh-cranberries/ http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/fresh-cranberries/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:51:55 +0000 http://www.arnoldacres.co.nz/blogs/?p=2953 West Coast cranberriesUntil a few years ago fresh cranberries were almost impossible to buy in New Zealand. That changed when Wild Ruby Cranberries planted their first crop in 2007. Even so, it was a pretty good secret until recently. Harvesting is weather … Continue reading ]]> West Coast cranberries

West Coast cranberries

Until a few years ago fresh cranberries were almost impossible to buy in New Zealand. That changed when Wild Ruby Cranberries planted their first crop in 2007. Even so, it was a pretty good secret until recently. Harvesting is weather dependent and once harvested they sell out fairly quickly.

One day recently we snapped up a small punnet of fresh cranberries at our local New World grocery store. The first thing we did was eat one—one only, not a handful. Their taste is described as bitter, tart or sour—and they are. They are also rather dry, almost hollow in the middle with tiny little seeds. Not many people would like to eat fresh cranberries but they shine when added to baked goods. We were lucky to buy almost the last five kilograms of  Wild Ruby’s 2016 crop.

Cranberries have about 4% sugar. Craisins are very popular but they have approximately 70% added sugar. Reduced sugar Craisins have about 32% added sugar.

 

Ready for chopping

Ready for chopping

Cranberries are almost perfectly round and about 20mm in diameter. They are too big to use whole but chopping them is like trying to chop gum balls. Our first attempt had them rolling everywhere—we found them days later in the oddest places.

Inside a cranberry

Inside a cranberry

This shows a cranberry’s cavity and tiny seeds.

Chopped in a food processor

Chopped in a food processor

Our second attempt at chopping them was in a food processor. That’s supposed to work well but ours were frozen and we probably put too many in at once. Some were barely touched and others were chopped into tiny pieces.

We decided that the best tactic is to cut each one in half by hand.

Cranberry pancakes

Cranberry pancakes

We weren’t going to let the oddly chopped cranberries go to waste—we added them to our pancakes.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

After cooking you’d hardly believe the cranberries were sour to start with. They added a refreshing tart but not bitter taste to the pancakes.

These are our famous 1/4 cup mini pancakes. Smaller pancakes mean we can have more!

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

This recipe started out as pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins. We couldn’t resist added some fresh cranberries to the mix for this batch.

Cranberry, pumpkin, chocolate chunk muffins

1  3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup cocoa powder (optional)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon molasses, golden syrup or treacle (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup pumpkin purée

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF) Position rack in center of oven. Grease two six-hole muffin pans with cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cocoa powder (if using) together in large mixing bowl. Stir in cranberries.
3. Combine eggs, sugar, water, oil, molasses or syrup in a separate bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in the pumpkin purée,  it’s okay if it is a little lumpy.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well blended. Do not over beat.
5. Scoop batter into muffin pans, bake for 22–25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool in pans for a few minutes, remove and cool completely on racks before serving or wrapping for storage. These muffins freeze well but are always best after cooling on the day they are baked.

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