Saying It With Boats, Books and Chooks

Flew north to help my sister celebrate her 60th.

As well as cooking me and her daughter one of her legendary roasts, one day she also baked this magnificent egg and bacon pie made with eggs from her hens. I do not think I have eaten a pie as good – even counting my father in law’s B&E pies which were always pretty much perfect.

The point of difference I believe being the eggs from happy hens and which contain very full and meaty whites. From Wiki: Egg white has many uses in food (e.g. meringuemousse) as well as many other uses (e.g. in the preparation of vaccines such as those for influenza). Another use, which interested me as an author and reader: Egg whites are also used in bookbinding during the gilding process, where it is referred to as ‘glaire’, and to give a book cover shine.

The pic above shows Shirley, the leader of the pack. Top hen. Named after our late mother.

Shirley leads the way, followed by Winnie, Mary, Dottie and Berry.

Winnie, Mary and Berry.

For a number of reasons, along with other countries (Japan and USA apparently) New Zealand has at present, a shortage of eggs. In our case it is largely due to a change in policy re egg producing, with some egg producers either deciding the new regulations were too hard to comply with, or simply running out of the time to comply before the conditions came into force.

No shortage here. Being a good sort, my sister’s close neighbour doesn’t go without.

Too busy writing this post, I missed THIS but I’m adding it now, later. It’s a report on an egg heist in my town, Dunedin. Funny as.

The chooks (or chickens as she calls them) and her wee dog, keep J. relatively busy. Here she is with her dog and in the distance, chickens Ginger and Pepper.

“Bunny! Bloody bunny!” is one of the sentences this dog immediately understands and a wild, if somewhat bouncy, dash follows as she sets off to chase said nuisance bunny off the property. In actual fact, the dastardly ‘wabbits’ simply disappear down one of the many holes dotting the field.

On the actual birthday, our brother and sister-in-law shouted us lunch in Waikanae at a favourite eatery there – Long Beach Cafe and Tavern.

Walking to the cafe, we came across a little community library. I almost helped myself to Kate Atkinson’s Behind The Scenes At The Museum, until I checked the opening paragraph and confirmed a sneaking suspicion – I’d already read it.

The time with my sister largely consisted of lazy days out of bright sun, reading, or in my case, listening to reader podcasts. My sister was immersed in a murder mystery Tilt by the Australian writer, Chris Hammer. She loved it so much that on a shopping expedition we made to Palmy North, she bought another one of his books. I had to hunt a little for the book I wanted to purchase – Babel by R.F. Kuang. Whitcoulls had run out. Paper Plus thought they had some on the shelves, but discovered they’d gone. However, they were able to supply my request after checking out the back and establishing that they had 33 copies out there.

So far I’ve just read the first chapter. Apparently at present I’d sooner listen to a podcast about books than actually read one. On those podcasts, I’ve heard some rave reviews of Babel and one lukewarm one. I’m interested to find out what I think of it.

This chaise lounge was begging for me to lie back with a book and a wine.

So far, the premise and the opening chapter of this ‘slightly sci. fi.’ book, Babel, have me intrigued and I’m keen to read on. According to my podcasts, ‘dark academia’ is a category becoming popular in the book reading world and Babel fits right in there.

Wine, with a birthday cup cake delivered by one of my sister’s lovely neighbours. They are keen to read my books. One has already read two of my books; one poetry and one novel; and she enjoyed them. I love my sister’s neighbours.

Sometimes we kicked back and watched stuff on tv. – game shows, episodes of The Voice, a movie or two (which movies I am at a loss to recall right now) and a couple of Agatha Christie Miss Marples.

J. follows canal boats on YouTube. We watched clips of these flat bottomed boats negotiating various locks, tunnels and bridges. I found it calming, even mesmerising, following a long, flat-bottomed boat drifting past grey winter trees under the cloudy skies of Britain.

Speaking of canals, rivers, streams, flat-bottomed boats and community libraries – here is the community library near to my sister’s. Awa Pukapuka, made from an old dinghy.

All too soon it was time to say good-bye to the wee dog

and the peaceful surrounds of J’s house and garden

and head into the sunset. Until next time, sis. Welcome to the sixties.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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