our community

One of the things I enjoy most about living here in the valley is the sense of community.


In the country your neighbours can be some distance away, that’s just the way it is.

We’ve lived in cities where we knew our neighbours, but not like here.


I think the distance between neighours  actually adds to the connection you have with them in rural areas.
I have said before there is a genuine  looking out for and helping out your neighbours in the country.


Last week we  returned home to a message on the phone from a neighbour alerting us there was an
opportunistic thief operating during the day if he was lucky enough to find you were out.  The local
policeman had emailed a long time resident, and he had spread the word, and on it went.
The country grapevine was in overdrive and working well.


Security is often taken for granted rurally. Locked doors are rare and cars are left with their keys inside.
It is not something we usually have to think about, and we like it like that.


However an arrest has been made, and its probably good for us all to become a little more safety conscious.
But it illustrates safety is not just ringing the emergency services, its about knowing those living around you who
look out for you, and take the time to pass on warnings and if you are home alone, you know can count on neighbours
along the road should you need to.


That is community, and I am grateful we live where we do.


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what a difference a week makes

                                                  We had only been away for a few days…….but what a difference.
A week away, and all of a sudden on return the days have lengthened, the buds have fattened, and the weeds are growing.

Every year it comes as a surprise. Suddenly there it is, the extra daylight  that triggers all sorts of magic in the garden.
It may only be a few minutes in the morning and evening, but it is enough to signal  mother nature to start those spring surges.

We had a few days in the north island, it seemed like a different landscape. So green, and it rained, frequently. I can honestly say
I have forgotten what a difference  real rain makes, that is, more than the few spits we have had. It was muddy underfoot and I had to brush dust off my raincoat to pack in the suitcase.

 The gardens were so lush and the grass long. Our drought landscape has become so normalised and part of our everyday,
that I expect everywhere else to look the same. It doesn’t.

Yes we are looking forward to winter ending, but the prospect of an El Nino summer with the predicted drought that goes with it for the east coast of NZ where we are, on top of already dry soils is worrying. In the meantime I am enjoying the colours of late winter.




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the beauty of almonds



 When the Almonds flower you know spring is just around the corner, ok, maybe a couple of blocks away still.

The blossom lifts your spirits even when it is still cold and wintery. Today I spied the first blossom all on it’s lonesome
shining white like the first  night time star, but the rest of the buds are fat and ready to burst.

CY 750 flowers first, always in July,  431 flowers later in August/September, timing its flowering after CY 750 has finished.
Prosaic names that belie their exquisite flowers.

I had always accepted that some years I would not get any nuts, but that was fine by me,  the years I did, would be a bonus
and the beauty of the flowers would make up for any lack of a harvest.  But I have been surprised at how well they have cropped. Almonds are in flower here, when there is a strong likeliehood of frosts, and almond flowers are frost tender.  In fact one year, CY750 flowered with  snow on the ground followed by several days of severe frosts , I was resigned to it being a no harvest year.   Surprisingly, we had a bumper crop. I am not sure how or why that happened.

Almond 123

Almonds are native of north Africa and fruit most successfully where the climate is Mediterranean. If you can grow nectarines
or peaches, you can grow almonds. Almond varieties are categorised according to the strength of their shell, and how easy it
is to get the kernel out. Paper and soft shelled varieties are preferred in home gardens, although hard shelled varieties provide
greater protection from summer rain damage. For us in the valley summer rain is a bonus, the challenge for us, is providing
enough  moisture for the nuts to form.


Shelling last seasons almonds by the fire is a good winter activity, as I sweep up the huge pile of shells and look at the
small mound of almonds I often wonder if it is worth it. However, the taste of fresh creamy almonds is very different from
store bought.

Our almonds go into our Beekeepers muesli and Ricciarelli biscuits that guests love so much, and at Christmas panforte.




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without winter we would not anticipate spring

It’s been cold…………………………. very cold an icy winter grip that has lasted for several weeks.


Far more severe than other winters.

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 But amongst the grasp of frozen tentacles is frosty beauty, and icy decay.


Gardens  are best seen in winter, the structure is laid bare,  and it is the time of year when the design really stands out.


Winter pares back to the essentials and isolates details.


Without winter we wouldn’t anticipate spring.




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