Before, During and After

BEFORE

Before Christmas we made a trip down to Gore to visit my 90-year-old mother-in-law in a rest home there. Robert makes the trip to visit his mum once a week. Sometimes I accompany him.

HAY BALE ART, GORE
BEAUTIFYING BY PLANTER, MATAURA RIVER, GORE

We always take her out for a drive. Or a ‘run’ as Robert’s family vernacular would have it. These regular visits and drives mean I have seen more of the countryside around Gore than I did when I lived there. Back then, the only countryside I saw was through the Waikaia high school bus windows, or from a car window on the way to wherever 11.00 a.m. Sunday Mass was that week … Lumsden, Balfour, Waikaka, Riversdale, Waikaia.

SLUGS, CHRISTMAS BAKING

Slugs are a favourite biscuit in my wider family. I have no idea why they are called that – maybe because of the shape? A well known biscuit down where I was raised (Western Southland) and one which once upon a time I thought no-one other than those associated with my family and that region, knew about. That is until about ten years ago when a lovely friend, the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr, responded to a blog post of mine about these biscuits, informing me that she remembered them from her childhood in Owaka, in the Catlins.

Upon looking up the recipe just now, I find it is noted HERE as being a recipe that came from Scotland. That makes a lot of sense to me, having Scottish blood (highland and island and lowland) on both my mother and father’s side.

ALL READY TO GO

I baked a batch to take up with us to Christchurch, where we spent Christmas with our son and family.

BLUE PUB

Methven was where we spent a night on our journey up to Christchurch. Mid-Canterbury is a region we haven’t spent a lot of time in, so it was all new ground.

BROWN PUB

I was amused by the prosaically-named Blue Pub and Brown Pub with accompanying street furniture.

DOWN TOWN METHVEN

These days the town is persistently promoted as a ski resort. When we were there, a quietness verging on lethargy suffused the streets – no doubt aided by the temperature soaring to 30 degrees celsius, with a hot nor’ westerly* making its presence felt. *I will write a little more about this wind later

PLOUGH, SHEEP & SHEAVES OF WHEAT – METHVEN CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL PLAQUE

Methven is a town that has had its fair share of spirit-quelling stuff – earthquake damage back in 2010 and more recently, Covid’s serious impact. However, as I eavesdropped (a favourite pastime from childhood on and one I find very useful to gague surroundings) during our dinner in a restaurant, I got the impression from locals that the heart of the community is robust enough. Pretty resilient. Pretty tough.

MUSSELS & BEER

Next day, before heading for Christchurch via the Rakaia Gorge, Robert played golf. Methven golf course’s boast is that it’s the ‘most picturesque golf course in the South Island’. Robert set out to prove that they weren’t lying. And they weren’t.

Meanwhile, I read from some magazines I’d splashed out on (Thrive and Shepherdess – two quality NZ magazines I highly recommend) and r e l a x e d.

RAKAIA GORGE

I believe this was my first sighting of the Rakaia Gorge, famous geologically as well as mythologically.

Go HERE to read the story of the taniwha of Rakaia Gorge.

LOOKING TOWARDS THE COAST
RAKAIA RIVER
RAKAIA GORGE
A BLINK-AND-YOU-MISS-IT KINDA TOWN
DRIFTWOOD CHRISTMAS TREE

Arriving in Christchurch, we added the presents we’d brought with us to the pile already under the driftwood Christmas tree.

PEANUTS CHRISTMAS
PLAYING CRANIUM

The day before the day before Christmas was perfect for a board game indoors, which may or may not have included an imitation of Trump by yours truly.

FAMILY PET PIKO
TURKEY DEFROSTING & SOAKING IN A BRINE BATH

Steve was soaking the turkey for tomorrow’s dinner in a brine solution with (among other things) apple juice and oranges added to it.

~*~

DURING

Christmas morning – the time for opening the presents under the tree.

A ‘MUM’ PRESENT FROM MY SISTER IN PERTH, AUSTRALIA

My three sisters and I decided this year to buy each other the kind of Christmas present our late mother used to buy – which because of their quirkiness and idisosyncratic nature, always caused much hilarity. She didn’t always mean to cause so much laughter and sometimes got upset that we thought the presents so funny. But when you give obvious bowling club raffle prizes as presents, or break up sets so that everyone gets ‘one of a set’ … and you give your granddaughters G-strings … Well, sorry Mum, but there’s going to be laughter!

WAFFLES & CREAM & SUMMER BERRIES

Christmas breakfast waffle made by our granddaughter A. using a Christmas gift: a waffle/panini/doughnut maker.

TURKEY ROASTING ON THE BBQ

Our son, at around ten years old, was thinking he’d like to be a chef but was put off this career trajectory early on by a chef uncle telling him not to. The hours are far too unsocial he was told. Advice our son heeded. He is now happily employed as a teacher.

However, his inclinations towards food prep. are ocassionally activated, such as on Christmas Day this year when we were the lucky recipients of Christmas Dinner cooked entirely by him. Including a turkey roasted on a charcoal bbq.

CRICKET, HAGLEY PARK

While waiting for the turkey and accompanying roast potatoes and salads to be prepared, there was time for some cricket on Hagley Park (so close to where our son and family live, it could legitimately be called their backyard.) Plus some boomerang-throwing pracice with the boomerang our grandson got for Christmas.

HAGLEY PARK
SPRING HAS GONE; THE BABY BIRDS HAVE FLEDGED; IT’S NOW MID-SUMMER & CHRISTMAS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE. BIRDS NEST, HAGLEY PARK

Back to the house for a splendid Christmas dinner. The roast potatoes were perfect – golden and crunchy on the outside, sweet and fluffy on the inside. By carefully following instructions handed down from his paternal grandfather; instructions that include using Agria spuds and roasting them in duck fat; Steve had produced a faithful reproduction of a family favourite.

Needless to say, the turkey was sublime.

PAVLOVA – FOR PUDDING

We didn’t feel like pudding until about 4.00 p.m. I’d brought a Christmas pudding (‘I’d prepared before’) using a recipe in the Orepuki Women’s Division Recipe book (circa 1962) which we ate with custard and cream.

~*~

AFTER

Boxing Day consisted of watching cricket at Hagley Park Cricket Ground, the weather continuing sunny and perfect.

BOXING DAY CRICKET HAGLEY PARK CRICKET GROUNDS

While at the game, I received news that an Aunt had died that morning. She was in her nineties but as it was a sudden death, it was a shock for her son and family. She was my father’s sister-in-law and the last link with that generation – a line that stretches for over one hundred and twenty years, the first of Dad’s siblings being born in the early 1900’s.

I have some sweet memories of this sweet person. R.I.P. Aunty Joyce.

BROWN TROUT CAUGHT IN THE MATAURA (OR MAYBE WAIKAIA) I DIDN’T ASK WHERE IT WAS CAUGHT

When I was sent this photo, taken by my brother of a fish he’d caught a couple of days after my Aunty died, I remembered how Uncle Steve (her husband) took my brother, who was thirteen years old at the time, fishing after our father died. It made me think that maybe my brother had been getting some help with his fishing that morning.

~*~

Author:

Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

3 thoughts on “Before, During and After

  1. My condolences Kay, and so close to Christmas 😦 My mum, also from that generation, was also named Joyce and she lived up to the ‘Joy’ part of her name, bless her! Btw I love this post and thanks for sharing the slugs, pubs, turkey in a tub, and all the rest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story of Christmas and traditions from the Southern Hemisphere was delightful. After spending 70 or so Christmas’ in the cold and usually snowy northern part of the northern hemisphere i had previously had difficulty contemplating Christmas in “summer,” with the exception of Hawaii, as presented by Bing Crosby’s Mele Kalikimaka. Now that I’ve spent the last 6 Christmas. in Florida. I can totally relate.

    Liked by 1 person

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