Zesty Mumma's Words

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Archive for the tag “advice”

Functional Dysfunctionality – Families Where Would We Be Without Them

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Families are complex and I don’t think there are many people  on the planet would disagree with that. Just navigating the intricate labyrinth of internal relationships can be a mine field and can make your mind bleed at the same time; brother sister, mother daughter, husband wife, father son, then lets add aunts, uncles etc etc to the mix. I believe that most of our families work on the basis of functional disfunctionality.

Which brings me to my mother, Monica, a spritely impish woman in her seventies. She is incredibly active, still playing tennis and riding her pushbike many times a week, looking after grandchildren and great grandchildren on a regular basis and walking everywhere she can. Born during the Second World War she lost her father while he was a soldier in the British army. Her mother, having four children, had to find work and placed three of those children in an orphanage. Like so many of the children of that time loss was just part of her life and just like the English do so well, she just got on with life.

As you would imagine security to my mother is a very important thing. She doesn’t understand the waste she sees constantly in society today. People have far more disposable income than ever before but use it far less wisely. I tell you all this to explain what happened on my first trip to New Zealand and Queenstown in particular.

Even before we left Australia, in the planning stages of our trip, my mother told me that the main thing she wanted to do was visit Milford Sound. It wasn’t a trip I had envisioned for myself but as the tour guide I knew I would have to find out a little bit about about it. The first part of that trip saw us spend ten days in the North Island before taking the ferry to Picton. We stayed in Wellington for a few days, where I picked up some brochures. When I read the price of the trip I knew I would have to be skilful when breaking this news to my mother. After dinner the night before we left I sat down next to Monica, who was happily watching the television, drinking a cup of tea and nibbling on chocolate, perfect I thought, her heaven.

“So mum” I say, carefully as you go, “I’ve been looking up about your trip to Milford Sound”.

“Yes,” I could tell by her tone she was excited; phew I thought this is going to be easy.

“Well from what I can see, you take a bus from Queenstown all the way to Milford then on to a boat ……” I went through the whole scenario with her.

“This trip here” I held up the first brochure. “Is $159 NZ” I heard a squeak come out of her mouth but I ignored it thinking I could finish her off with my secret weapon.

“But look at this one, it’s on special for $144,” who could argue with that I thought. Monica that’s who, I think she nearly had a coronary.

“Oh that’s too much I can’t afford that,” Mind you this is the same woman that wouldn’t hesitate to buy a $200 dress if she really wanted it.

Eventually I had to let it go cause there was just no reasoning with her and the argument was getting heated. Even the fact our exchange rate at that time gave us $1.25 NZ for every $1.00 AU, could not sway her.

On the South Island things calmed down and I didn’t mention the trip to Milford again. A couple of days before we arrived in Queenstown out of the blue my mother says.

“I think I will do the trip to Milford Sound, I was just being silly.” I remained calm; I’d kind of expected this about face. Generally it is just the unexpected that people react to, when their brain has time to process the information they’re usually ok. So I didn’t say too much, not wanting to gloat.

“That’s good mum, I know you’ll enjoy it”.

“We’ll see,” she said ominously.

The day we arrived in Queenstown was a cool day, so once mum was settled with her cup of tea I went to reception to use the Internet. Deciding that I probably needed to book the trip to Milford while I was there I made it for Tuesday, two days away.

When I got back to our accommodation mum had found a couple of young backpackers to talk to so she was in a great mood.

Waiting till we were alone I said in the brightest voice possible, “ I booked our trip to Milford Sound.”

Monica nearly choked on the marmalade toast she was eating, “what did you do that for, I can’t afford that.” She proceeded to huff and puff, working herself into lather. I thought at that moment that my mother might have been suffering from either Alzheimer’s disease or Schizophrenia.

It was my turn to “WHAT” her.

“Excuse me. Didn’t you tell me the other day that you had changed you mind and wanted to go”?

“Oh, you shouldn’t listen to me,” to say I was flabbergasted at that moment was an understatement.

I won’t bore you with anymore details; needless to say it was very tense for a while. I did take the trip to Milford and had an amazing time, while my mother stayed in Queenstown. As I say families are not for the faint hearted, you possibly may need a PHD to understand them.

Deer Wars – Only in New Zealand

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New Zealanders are a resourceful bunch. Historically there has never been a huge manufacturing base in that country so most products were imported. Funnily enough most of the western world is now in the same boat due to our dependence on the monolithic Chinese industrial juggernaut, but that’s another story.

So out in backyard sheds and farm buildings all over the country, with only Mable the Sheep for company, Kiwi inventors for generations have found answers to the most vexing of life’s problems. Using only a few bits of wire, a solder iron and some gaffer tape they have created and built every tool and device they ever needed. If you don’t believe me, watch “The World’s Fastest Indian and you’ll see what I mean.

These ingenious people are the same ones that gave us the bungy cord, Jet boats and my personal favourites, eggbeaters and hairpins. The contributing factors to this resourcefulness are simple. They are situated a long, long way from anywhere (other than Australia) and have a very, very small population (most of which actually lives in Australia).

Deer hunting in the Fjordland of the South Island is likewise a good example. These crazy men perfected the hunting of feral red deer from helicopters. At the time the government had decided there was a need to cull the deer due to their great numbers and the damage they were doing to the environment. The terrain as you would imagine was beyond rough and it became a time consuming activity. That is until the idea of hunting with helicopters became a reality.

During the 1970’s crews of three; a pilot, a spotter and the shooter, ranged through out the mountain country searching for the prize. At first the deer were plentiful and the money was good so it drew men from all over the country. They were hungry for work and adventure, just like the gold rush times of old. This was not an easy occupation by any means and death was a common occurrence. Approximately 80 hunters and pilots died during the time that has come to be known as The Deer Wars.

As the years rolled by the deer became scarce and smart. Just when the industry was on the verge of collapse the demand for live deer to stock new farms saved them. However, this became an even crazier time. Instead of shooting the deer’s, once they were spotted the helicopter would hover as close as it could above the startled animal.  Once the chopper was in place a hunter would actually jump out on top of the animal. As you can imagine accidents and misses were not uncommon, contributing greatly to the death toll.

Apparently there is a global job crisis, anyone thinking about retraining? I have a couple of suggestions, travel, adventure, what are you waiting for!

 

 

 

 

Haast and Beyond, with Whitebait for Sustenance

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Heading south to Haast, the last outpost on the West Coast, you realise just how stoic the early European settlers must have been to eek out a farming existence in that verdant land. The bush closes in thickly around you at times and the ever present, misty rain implies a prehistoric past that is still very much present. This trip was my second on that road and no different the first time I travelled it.

Whitebait is a delicacy you may not have heard about but is so important to nearly every New Zealander that a love of them is almost a prerequisite for citizenship. What is it I hear you ask, actually Whitebait are tiny little fish, much smaller that sardines with a gigantic head (in comparison to their body). Every single kiwi I have met has at least one story about going “whitebaiting” when they were young, much increasing its legendary status. As you approach Haast a small hand written sign on the side of the road advertising whitebait fritters can be seen, make sure you stop. The fritters are a simple affair, prepared and cooked on a make shift bench in front of you and consist of beaten eggs, whitebait, salt and pepper, buttered bread and sauce if you want but well worth it.

South of Haast is the truly wild New Zealand, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and onto Antarctica. The main road turns east at this point and heads up and over the Alps. If you don’t have a convoy of Motorhomes breathing down upon you make sure at some point you stop on the side of the road to marvel, slack jawed at the beauty you are heading toward. It is scenery that no amount of words I could ever say would do justice to.

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This road will take you all the way to Wanaka and on to Queenstown, it is quite narrow in places but that is never a problem because there just isn’t that much traffic. Once you are over the top it follows a route around amazing blue lakes. This is sheep country and very high so the vegetation is sparse. This trip we chose to keep going through to Queenstown but Wanaka is a nice little town with lots of accommodation. Both towns are quite modern and generally busy in all seasons. Winter bringing the skiers and late spring, summer and early autumn the travelling tourists.

It takes about an hour to get to Queenstown from Wanaka along the highest public road in the country. Just before you begin your decent into Queenstown you come upon gravel clearing on the side of the road. Make sure you stop at that spot, the view looking down the valley and into Queenstown is a must see. Late snow was still clinging to the hills around the valley on my first trip but this time it was late summer so it had all melted, still beautiful but the snow made it spectacular.

 

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It is a 300 km bus trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown and I took it the first time I was there. Unfortunately, the only trouble with that is if you’re on a bus tour you have to take 300km trip home that day as well. Actually I am only joking when I say unfortunately because the trip there was nearly as good as seeing the Sound. After Te Arnau the road takes you through vast empty valleys that had once been farmland but are now part of the National Park. The drivers are well trained and have lots of interesting local knowledge to bring the trip to life. It makes it a long day but not one you would regret. To get down to Milford you have to pass through a long tunnel. If you are a nervous driver you would be best to take a bus trip like me. I’m not a nervous driver but I was very glad I went on the bus.

My favourite thing in Queenstown is the botanic garden. After you walk through the garden there is lovely little French café down on the lake that finishes off the visit nicely. The walk up Queenstown Hill is also great. It starts at the end of some extremely steep streets but becomes less so once you are up about a third of the way.

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Arrowtown is a quaint little town about 5 km from Queenstown, It is renowned for cute little stone cottages and other old buildings but it is heavily commercialised and really not my cup of tea. Having said that I had a venison pie at the local bakery was the best pie I have ever tasted.

 

Tips

  • Top up your petrol take at Haast.
  • Try Pine Lodge for budget accommodation. The room I had on my first visit was spotlessly clean. I booked it on a last minute booking website and managed to get a twin room for four nights for $200 NZ.
  • There are two supermarkets in Queenstown – a smaller one right at the end of Shotover Street in the CBD. The second, a large New World, is just a few blocks over, just out of the CBD.
  • Unless you know you have a bargain I wouldn’t really buy any souvenirs in Queenstown, very overpriced and all made in China.
  • The bus trip to Milford costs around $150 NZ

Never Give Up, You Just Never Know What is Going to Happen Next

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Huge walls of hydraulic energy thundered down on the helpless coastline, Cyclone Joan had done her job well. On the beach the surf contest continued attracting spectators all morning. The wide expanse of sand in front of the surf club resembled Central Station at peak hour. Rubber duckies bounced high in the air as they jumped over the surging white water, then roared with intensity up the beach. While hovering helicopters fought for supremacy with loud speakers narrating the progress of each competitor in piercing tone, the confusion was complete. Out of the activity, a little way up the beach, Gail swam alone all the time wary not to venture beyond the shore break. The destructive power of the thunderous surf made survival for anyone caught in its iron grip impossible.

Where the girl came from Gail didn’t know but there she was a tiny figure alone in a sea of white water, screaming in terror as the surge tried to sweep her out to sea. The human instinct to help rose swiftly inside Gail and fought valiantly with her logical brain that accurately concluded she too would be fighting for her life if she did. The minutes ticked by like hours; scared she would loose sight of the girl if she went for help she desperately tried to attract attention. Gail’s frantic cries for help fell unheard below the roaring Jet engine of the raging surf. Desperation tightened its grip as she watched the girl’s tenuous grasp on life slipping away.

Out of nowhere a surfer appeared from under a monster wave.

“Do you need a hand to get in” he called in an amazingly calm voice. Gail’s compunction to laugh was almost unbearable. Didn’t he realise there was a ferocious beast hell bent on devouring her life and that of the other swimmer?

“I’m Okay, but there’s a girl in trouble out there,” She yelled back to him.

It wasn’t till the girl was safely on her way to shore that Gail realised the rip had taken hold of her and it wasn’t letting go.

Between breakers the ocean became a cauldron, as the sweep took her she was pounded by wall after wall of white water. Screaming until she was hoarse her voice was no match for the malevolent surf. As each new wave approached Gail steeled herself for the pounding she was about to receive, there was only enough time to gasp for air before being dragged down again. Sound no longer came from her open mouth.

A brief glance through the tumult revealed ants on the beach that used to be people.

Having reached the point of hopelessness, death seemed the inevitable next step.

Out of nowhere the surfer appeared beside her again, having taken the other girl to the safety of the beach he then realised Gail was the one in trouble now. Making his way back out through the treacherous conditions, he knew there wasn’t a minute to loose. Though the fog in her brain was thick, Gail felt herself lifted across the board and then blackness.

Gail opened her eyes and an ocean of water ran uncontrollably from her mouth. Coughing and spluttering she tried to sit, encircled by a crowd and totally unaware she was naked, her string bikini no match for the gigantic surf.

Inexplicably, after thanking her saviour Gail began crawling up the beach to where her husband and friend sat watching in oblivion. It was an unexplainable truth but fact is no one offered her a towel or help back to her family. She collapsed on a towel beside them. Feeling the thud as she hit the sand, Darren turned his head and asked in total innocence, “Where have you been?”

With all the strength her battered body could summon, she said in a gravelly whisper,

“You’ve got to be joking!”

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle – I’m Not

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Ì love animals, you name it, love them all, especially frogs. Not that frogs are animals but you get the idea. Magpies though, now that’s a different story or at least it was. Being totally traumatised during childhood I always considered magpies one species of wildlife that I would I never say that about. I spent most trips to and from school during magpie breeding season carrying a piece of wood and behaving as if I was walking down a dark alleyway at midnight. The ever present stalker ready to attack the moment I let my guard down. I’m an “excellent ducker and weaver” to this day. It’s just a pity that I didn’t have better athletic ability where this highly developed skill could have been of more use.

We had two magpies living in our yard, just young birds, not a whole year old. They had no fear of our human presence in their lives or that of our domestic animals. Not even the constant staring of our old orange cat perturbed them. Our maggies had their first litter in late winter and the babies were ready to leave the nest in early spring.

Craig found the first baby in the small Banksia tree near the garage. Stunned by the fact it didn’t move when he patted it he couldn’t wait to show the kids when they came home. Being Sheena, queen of the jungle my immediate diagnosis was “Its fallen out of the nest, we’ll have to look after it”.

My husband and his brother both tried to assure me that the parents were looking after it. Of course I didn’t listen and managed to course he poor thing to fly into a tall sapling, safely out of arms my arms reach, there it stayed all afternoon. The beautiful day that had been Sunday had been disappear in a torrential downpour, complete with howling wind, trees nearly doubling over as the southerly hit. I looked out my kitchen window and stared at the helpless baby sitting perched in the tree, with its sparsely covered, needle like foliage offering no protection. The night rolled in the wet and the blackness was almost unbearable. I couldn’t stop worrying about the tiny bird and succumbed to my mothering instincts

Standing under the tree it didn’t take long for the rain to penetrate my clothes but I couldn’t reach the bird. If I tried to climb up to it I’d probably fall into the creek which the tree overhung. There was nothing else to do; I’d have to force it down. The long stick that held up my washing line would do. Being cruel to be kind is a thing we humans do well, and I was no exception. The rain and darkness made the task even harder. There were times when I was sure I’d shish kabobbed the poor thing, but still I pressed on through the driving rain. Finally I managed to push the frightened baby far enough down the tree so I could grab it. Clutching my prize I hurried inside.

It was soaked to the bone. Sitting there with it the snuggled in to my chest I was quietly confident that interfering with nature was the purpose of mankind but after spending the night with the bird in a box next to me I wasn’t so sure. The bright morning sunshine poured through the window and I could hear the parent magpies warbling in the yard and knew what had to do.

Out in the yard I found there was actually not one baby but two. The second sitting patiently on a branch the way my charge had been before my interference. Placing the bird next to its sibling I was quietly confident that I was setting the world to right. Alas, the last time I saw the fledgling that day it was stuck in a thicket of long grass along way from the other baby. Sleep didn’t come easy that night. Having the parents reject it because of me weighed heavily on my conscience. Watching the parents and the other baby for the week, my guilt had to some degree subsided. Suddenly a miraculous turn of events, my son Jack came running in with the news there were two baby magpies in the wattle tree and sure enough there they were.

It seems that magpies separate their babies into different trees until they can fly properly. They probably do this incase some marauding predator like an Eagle, Hawk or interfering human decides to steal a baby, then they wouldn’t get both. Only at night do they bring them together into the same tree.

Apparently Magpie parents know what’s best for their babies, who would have thought!

The Wild Wild West of NZ’s South Island

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When I was seven I used to wait for my mother to finish the weekly grocery shopping. Not in a park or a library but in a milkbar. Every Saturday morning, I would take my twenty cents pocket money, order twelve cents worth of hot chips and buy an eight cent strawberry milkshake. Sitting on the soft black vinyl swivel stools at the long bench I savoured every chip that crunched and melted in my mouth, feeling very grown up. To this day I love chips, in particularly Fish and Chips, and thankfully so do New Zealanders.

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Hokitika, a small town south of Punakaiki, abut half an hour from Greymouth. It is known as the home of Greenstone, but I would like to award it with another title. It has the best fish and chip shop on the west coast, with awesome chips. That’s lucky for me, right? Well it also has amazing homemade mussel fritters and of course local fish, so whatever you do plan to have lunch at Hokitika. There is lots to see and a good stop before you head south on the two hour trip to the glaciers.

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The strip of land between the pounding waves of the Tasman Sea and the foothills of the Southern Alps is very narrow. As the moist water laden clouds hit the land they travel up and over the mountains, dropping their cargo as they go. So make sure you have a raincoat while you are there as it is wet much of the time.

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The lush vegetation that results is wild and dense, with a definite prehistoric feeling. There is so much timber washed into the sea that the stony beaches are littered with tonnes of twisted grey driftwood. The glaciers are a must to see. We stayed at Franz Joseph but took the trip to Fox Glacier, which has a good viewing area after a nice walk. This was one place that I was grateful to have the thermos cause it was raining and cold by the time we got back to the car.   * Next week – on to Queenstown

Being a Mum Can Be Bad For Your Health

The woman in front of me looked stressed, her eyes glanced from the pile of eighty five gram tins of tuna she had piled onto  the conveyor belt, past me to grocery aisle behind us. She was careful not to look me in the eye, as is if there was some unknown shame she was trying to hide. Along with the tuna there were other tell tale signs, a three litre container of milk, a twelve pack of jam filled donuts attractively package in a cellophane covered white cardboard box and a jar of no name peanut butter, this woman was a mother.

Now, let me tell you, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I too am a mum.  Her face told the whole story, it was nearly five o’clock, she was still at the shops and she hadn’t prepared tea. Oh the panic attack of it all. I remember those days, the anxiety I suffered if I was still at the shops at that time was intense. As mothers we often placed huge expectations on ourselves. If we don’t get it right our kids will be failures. If we’re late for one dinner everything will come tumbling down. Aaarrgh!

“Have you forgotten something, do you want to go a and get it, I can wait?” I could see her mind ticking off all the things she should have grabbed. It was no skin off my nose I had all the time in the world. I live alone, my children have grown and left home.  What’s more I am finally cured of  that awful panic, but it took a long time.

“No that’s okay, it can wait” she said but her eyes still held that haunted look.

“Your worried about getting home aren’t you?” I couldn’t help myself.

“yes” she said hesitantly, embarrassed at the thought that her  secret was revealed.

“I know that look, your worried that the kids are at home and nothing is done? I remember feeling the same way” As soon as I spoke I could see her physically relax, amazed that someone knew how she felt.

In nursing homes they have a term for dementia patients who go a bit loopy at the end of the day. They call them sundowners. The funny thing is it is often women and it happens at that time of the day when everything gets crazy, kids come home, your trying to cook, there’s homework and fighting, very busy. Those poor old women are probably suffering post traumatic stress syndrome simply because they to were mothers.

I turned to this mum and told her the best advice I could give her.

“I have one thing to tell you, don’t stress, they will survive. If they have to have a can of tuna and a glass of milk for tea, it’s not going to kill them. Just don’t stress.”

Gorgeous Gorges, Flat Rocks and lots and Lots of Water – the Trip to the West Coast NZ

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Motueka Valley Road, sounds magical doesn’t it, well it was. This is the route we chose to take from Motueka and eventually met highway 6 which took us to the West Coast. Don’t be deceived, despite the fact that I say we travelled on Highway 6, it is as unlikely a highway as ever there was. Mostly single lane each way  but  there are sections  that you will never forget. At the Buller Gorge the road actually cuts in under a cliff (it’s not a tunnel) and winds around a couple of corners like this. No joke, it is only wide enough for one car and you can’t see if anything is coming. There is no warning signal, you just have to keep honking your horn and hope if anyone coming in the opposite direction hears it. You feel like your in one of those reality TV shows “The Worlds Deadliest Roads”.

We had given a young German backpacker a lift earlier in the day but he only lasted in the car about fifteen minutes before informing us that he had decided he wanted to hike down to the river. I’m sure it wasn’t my driving that freaked him out but I’d hate to have seen how quickly he would have tried to get out of the car if he’d been with us when we went around the gorge.

The river side park where  we stopped for lunch was charming and I went for a swim in a mountain stream. It is amazing how many people stopped to stare, it seemed amazing to them that anyone would want go swimming. Before leaving Claire went to use the toilet, she undid her jeans and pulled them down, then lifted the lid to sit down. The moment she lifted the lid hundreds of wasps flew out of the bowl. Poor Claire she had to try and get out the door, while trying to pull  her jeans as she went and fell out the door followed by a swarm of angry wasps at the same time.

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The South Island’s West Coast is unique  due to the fact the Mountains run like a crooked spine  it’s full length. Being the west the sun doesn’t rise till later in the morning and the sky is covered in clouds ninety percent of the time. All I can say is it is a very moist environment.  We decided to stay at Punakaiki for the night.  We hadn’t booked anywhere so we took our chances. Arriving at the Punakaiki Caravan Park we paid for a cabin. which was $65 a night but it was awful. There wasn’t any linen, bare thin mattress, a peeling chipboard  bench and it smelt like it had been closed up for eternity. Needless to say we got our money back and went 1 km up the road to the Punakaiki Beach Backpackers, booked the last room (which was the same price) and was knocked out by the cleanliness of the place. Situated right on the beach and a nice walk up to the Pancake Rocks it was awesome. Clean white sheets, spotless well equipped communal backpacker kitchen and stunning views for about the same price. I would suggest you book though we were just lucky and got the last room, there were still travellers arriving after us that couldn’t be accommodated.

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view from the verandah of the backpacker

We walked up to the rocks after  unloading a bit of gear and will tell you that this wasn’t a place I had honestly wanted to visit. You know, ho hum, rocks by the beach, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The rock formations are amazing and the NZ national park have done a terrific job of making the area accessible for every type of traveller. Lucky for Claire there enviro toilets do not come with complementary stinging things.

Which brings me back to sandflies. The west coast is rife with them and again make sure you have your insect repellant.

It was late when we arrived back and the accommodation so we just cooked a simple meal. I had bought a few pack of vacuum packed indian style veggie dishes a few days before. These are so yummy and they only cost  a few dollars NZ. Mixed with a pack of pre cooked brown rice and served with natural yoghurt it was a great meal and it only cost in total about $3 each. The other nice thing about backpackers accommodation, they usually have a few herbs in the garden that you can add to your meal.

Tips

* Make sure you arrive by at least 4.00pm as you want to enjoy Punakaiki cause you will probably head south first thing in the morning.

* As I mentioned in this story I went to an Indian Shop (Actually in Wellington before we left for the ferry) and  bought packets of vegetable dishes in vacuum pack. They were so cheap and no nasties like preservatives in them.  Have something quick to prepare is really important when you are getting back late, your tired and there are no shops around. This particular location is a little isolated so this rule definitely applied here.

 

 

Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry

I bought a Paneer Curry from a Vegetarian cafe the other day and got a little obsessed by the flavours. Below is my version, without the Paneer (Indian firm cheese). I replaced the Paneer with Tofu.

I call it Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

Ingredients
1 cup of raw cashew pieces
1 can of tomato pieces
250 gm tofu piece
1 cup of brown rice
2 medium sweet pieces
1/2 head of Broccoli
10 green beans
1 small geen capsicum
1 small zuccini
3 – 4 tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Herbs and spices for curry
2 chillies
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon each of garam masala, cumin, turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and coriander

First things first
Soak cashew pieces for 1 hour by covering them with boiling water.
Partially drain, process to a paste and set aside.
Grate ginger and garlic. Chop the chillies and combine all the spices.
Heat oil in large pot and add the herbs and spices. Break them up with a wooden spoon as as they cook. Add diced onion. This should all be cooked in a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn them. Pour in the tomatoes stir and allow to thicken. Once the mixture has reduce begin spooning in the cashew paste, stirring continually. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly for about 5 minutes. Add a little water to loosen mixture every now and then. Peel and chop sweet potatoes (into approximately 2 cm square pieces) and slice tofu into cubes (1 cm pieces approx). Add 1 can of water,sweet potato, and tofu to the sauce. Bring to the boil then turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

Boil the rice and chop remain vegetables in small pieces. In another saucepan cover green veggies with the boiling water, bring to the boil and turn off the heat.
Drain vegies and mix with boiled rice.  Serve with the Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

For a variation you can add chopped fresh mint to the rice and veggies.

Choice and Commitment – A hard lesson to Learn

The last few mornings I have been picking up and taking my friends two young daughters to school. The morning drop off is something I haven’t had the pleasure of partaking in for quite a while and I will readily admit I will not miss it. Crazy is a word that springs to mind, kids, cars (not a good mix) parents, dogs it’s all there. I can’t help looking back to my own primary school years when it was just lots of kids walking and the occasional car.

The two little girls I have been chaffeuring are absolutely gorgeous and no trouble at all, so it has been a pleasure. As an observer I have laughed to myself at the funny little characteristics that children take on relevant to their position in the family. The youngest is an impish, quirky, funny girl who tends to be babied by her siblings, while the oldest is a gentle and calm person who takes her responsibility to her younger sibling very seriously.

I can see the older girl in later life in a position where these beautiful characteristics are in high demand, i.e. nursing or teaching.

Today however, wasn’t a great day for the little one, her sister wasn’t going to school as she had to go to the dentist. This meant the little one has to go to school by herself.    She wasn’t happy!

Being the youngest she is used to always knowing that at least one of her siblings are always near at hand (she does have an older brother that is able to get himself to high school). She tried all the tricks that a youngest child tries, they plead, they cry and they stubbornly refuse to budge.

I truly wanted to keep her with me, it would have been so easy. We could have had a lovely girlie day and it was very tempting, but I didn’t relent. If you allow a child to stay home from school cause she doesn’t feel like going, does that same person not go to work as an adult because they don’t feel like it? Ok that might sound like a stretch but where does it stop?

One reason that cemented my determination to encourage her to go to school was the fact that she had promised her parents that she would. She kept repeating, “I shouldn’t have promised, I shouldn’t have promised”.  This nine year old had learnt something that many adults never learn, the implications of making a commitment. Her parents have done a great job, they successfully taught their child about choice and commitment.

This skill can be a determining factor for success in every aspect of your adult life.

So we sat in the sun, she cried, I cuddled her and she eventually got up and chose to walk into her classroom, while I breathed a sigh of relief.

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