Monthly Archives: May 2016

The real heart of home

Maybe it was my early years reading ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ that did it, but I have always had a hankering for a stove in the kitchen.

In previous lives, I have been lucky enough to have owned a temperamental baby blue coal fired Aga in my first house – a 300 year old ‘Weavers Cottage’ in the North Yorkshire Moors.Then came a second hand cream coloured oil fired Rayburn – inherited from my stove loving then Mother in Law. However my ‘I’ve finally made it ‘moment was the purchase of a gleaming British racing car green gas Aga in my first house build. It was perfect. The house hugged around it and dogs, children, visitors all gravitated towards this new heart of a new home. It was also almost impossible to set fire to anything. The chicken I once left in overnight, when found, was simply dust 🙂

How I missed her when we moved.

Fast forward 15 years.

We moved to Paradise in late ( southern hemisphere) Spring so we are now knowledgeable about the heat and Marlborough summer winds and how the house / we cope with those, but the winter cold is a new one. ( Apologies to those living in real cold – I’m only talking currently of lows at 0/1c or 32F !). Yesterday however felt so cold that it was time to attempt to light the stove we have inherited which has been somewhat neglected so far in the kitchen.

She’s a beauty but she’s very old – a brown Shacklock Orion . So it was with a little trepidation that we set about lighting.

It’s fair to say the first few times entailed more smoke than fire, but after a little practice we’ve got it sussed and I’m so thrilled with the result. She’s actually a really easy starter – a few minutes and a little maintenance and we have a warm toasty addition to the kitchen. And what a difference it has made. Visitors have started gravitating to her and there is much warming of hands and bums as well as being a great conversation piece ! The Doodles spend a lot of time just lingering and are thrilled with the new heat source in their ‘bedroom’ :). And I now have another oven to use which gives far better results than a gas or electric equivalent and I must admit I do get a thrill from knowing that there is no cost to us except a quick trudge to the wood stack ( which M has valiantly produced from fallen branches and surplus trees around the patch).

It’s definitely my current happy place . Roll on winter 🙂



Beautiful Orion in all her glory

Honey on a Blustery Day

M and I share many passions but a biggie for us is Bees.

On a recent significant birthday, I gifted M a beehive (and someone to look after it!)

We were thrilled with our annual crop of honey with hints of pohutakawa and manuka , and loved sharing it with friends and family.

I actually don’t like honey, but that’s not the point 🙂 For me, it’s the fact that these highly industrious little things do magic. They are the true super heroes. Not only are they a crucial part of our overall food chain, they make an almost universally liked product that has uses far and wide.

When we moved, one of the first things to be put in place was the bee hives – three of them this time. They have been furiously active through the summer. Bearing in mind that a  honey bee will collect about a tea-spoon of honey in its whole lifetime, ponder that when you next spread it over your toast!

Yesterday we saw the result of their hard work.In the middle of a blustery afternoon that Winnie the Pooh would have been proud of, a sticky bucket arrived of 15 kilos of pure molten gold. With hints of citrus and a nod towards the vines on their doorstep, the honey has a uniquely delicious aroma and taste ( according to those who know these things !).

15 kilos of molten gold honey

There is something so satisfying about filling the multitude of sterilised jars gathered from family over the year and stocking the pantry. And knowing this was all created within metres of the house is just thrilling.

A perfect setting for making honey

Honey is also really good for you – see the nutritional facts below.

Amount Per
1 packet (0.5 oz) (14 g)
1 tbsp (21 g)
100 grams
1 cup (339 g)
100 grams

Calories 304
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 4 mg 0%
Potassium 52 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 82 g 27%
Dietary fiber 0.2 g 0%
Sugar 82 g
Protein 0.3 g 0%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% Iron 2%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 0%
*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
It has also associated itself with some great brand ambassadors – Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Monster to name but two ( for those that remember the Honey Monster from the TV adverts – “Tell them about the Honey, Mummy“, have a look at this link. You’re welcome  !!
Taking everything into account, honey has a thoroughly well deserved and enviable reputation and I’m loving it.



Perspectives from afar

It’s been along time between drinks as they say….

April was a month of travel and new experiences, predominantly in the USA.

Taking a look at your life from the other side of the world gives a unique perspective.

I love travel and I love new experiences and am eternally grateful for the opportunity to do so, but this time travel seemed different. I missed paradise.

Amongst many things, I felt slightly cheated out of seeing nature move swiftly from summer to autumn and change the palette and mood of home.

The first thing we did on our return was grab the Doodles and reacquaint ourselves with the vines, the orchard and all other things that stand still for no man ( or woman). It was a good time to think about the things that we missed ( in addition to family and the Doodles of course!) :

  1. The air. We underestimate the clean beautiful air that most of us enjoy in New Zealand but in particular in Marlborough. The purity on a cool clear day is a reminder of good health and the benefits of deep breathing. Not something often found in the more populated parts of the globe.
  2. The simplicity. Of food, of drink and of choices in general. While I love the expansive variety of ‘stuff’ in the USA, it was frequently overwhelming.
  3. The bounty of home grown. Picking a plum, harvesting a walnut.The quick journey from farm to table.
  4. The coffee. Now I’m not a coffee drinker but I heard enough about poor coffee to ensure this made it to the list. NZ is coffee paradise, apparently.
  5. The beauty of Marlborough . Stunning views in every direction. Productive land carefully nurtured to produce outstanding bounty…which leads to #6…
  6. The wine. We are blessed to have the most wonderful wines available to us in New Zealand.

We can all benefit from time away – ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and all that. But perspectives can give us the push we need to make changes – I know distance has helped me make some of the big decisions in my life. But this time I get a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that the things we really missed were all parts of the decision we made to search for the good life.

It’s good to be home.


The vines putting on a golden show for our return