Tuesday 22 November 2022

Some neat things from my life recently

It's been ages since I blogged, but I wanted to share some random neat things I've enjoyed recently :-)

Firstly, the jasmine cordial I made that turned out to be really strong?  I tried using it to flavour icing :-)  It might be too strong for cordial, but it turns out to be a relatively weak essence!  The cake is 18cm across, and I used 1/4 cup in the icing to give a fairly mild jasmine flavour.  The underlying cake was a vanilla Victoria sponge (I think the first sponge of any kind I've made), and I decorated it with edible flowers - violas and borage from our garden, and jasmine from near where I swim.  It was pretty and yum!

Encouraged by how well that turned out, I had another go.  This is the same Victoria sponge recipe, but made with lemon icing and decorated with borage flowers.

I'm continuing to enjoy swimming at Blockhouse Bay Beach - now generally staying in for an hour and swimming 1.2km.  I'm expecting to go without my swim beanie next week - the water is distinctly warmer now.  18 degrees, according the Safeswim website (which also handily tells me when I shouldn't swim due to sewage in the water: Auckland's sewerage pipes generally overflow into the stormwater pipes after heavy rain, so it's good to know when that's forecast to happen and when it's forecast to have cleared!)

A few weeks' back I noticed the first pohutakawa had started to flower.  After I swim I generally sit on the base of a particular pohutakawa or on a nearby seat - and that pohutakawa has had one 'zone' in flower for a few weeks now :-)

By this morning it'd been flowering vigorously enough that there was a (sparse) carpet of pohutakawa stamens around the base of both 'my' tree and seat.  I found stamens on me when I showered afterwards ;-)

Speaking of pohutakawa, on Saturday I spotted my first ever yellow one!  I think I first heard of yellow pohutakawa at least 10 years ago (a natural, but rare, genetic variant), but this was the first I'd seen.  It's in Grey Lynn Park.  We'd gone there to check out the festival, but it turned out that'd been cancelled due to the exceedingly soggy ground.  Probably a wise choice - the one food truck that showed up anyway (in the background of the photo) churned up a pretty sizeable strip of the field it parked on.

Despite the disappointment, it was a really pleasant afternoon.  Martin and I wandered around some of the perimeter of the park (it's huge!!!), stopped for a bit to watch kids playing on the pump track, listened to an audiobook we're enjoying together and generally had a pleasant time.  After walking back up the hill to Grey Lynn shops I had a fruju (the first I've had in years, and definitely what I was wanting!) and Martin had a Trumpet ice cream (Tiptop has recently moved to using slave-free cocoa in their trumpets, so we're eating them again).  Then we rode home in the front seats of the top floor of a double-decker bus :-)

The past few days I've been distributing tomato seedlings to various neighbours and church friends.  Originally I gave away surplus seedlings I didn't want, but they've proved so popular (and such a nice way to connect with people) that now I deliberately grow way more than I need!  This year an Indian neighbour reciprocated with a bitter gourd plant and an eggplant plant for me - and even cooked me some bitter gourd and gave me the recipe so I'd know what to do with it.  Yay for good neighbours!

And lastly, on Sunday morning, Samoa played in the rugby league world cup final (I think a first for any Pacific Island country).  Avondale has been complete madness (in a good way) for days!  Lots of cars are decorated with little Samoan flags, and plenty of folk are driving around waving full-sized flags out their car windows whilst playing upbeat music at full volume.  I've seen a few cars with Tongan flags, too (although it was wall-to-wall Samoan ones by Saturday) - and this one car that appears to be supporting the entire Pacific :-)

My church is probably a bit under half Samoan, and the energy in the room on Sunday morning was incredible.  Probably aided by the fact half the people there had been up since 5am to watch the game!  We have one chorus song we often sing, where each verse is the same words in a different language.  When we got to the Samoan verse, various people started traditional dancing, and the teenager on bass guitar whipped out a full-size Samoan flag to wave for the duration of the verse.  Fun :-)