Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Little Acorn

There's an old saying, "A giant oak tree is just a little acorn which stood it's ground".  Around here hundreds of little acorns stand their ground every year, cast off from our old oak tree.  They seem to grow readily, almost like weeds but there's nowhere they like better than landing in one of our $5 planter boxes. We managed to get these from a local farm when they were wanting to get rid of some of them some years ago and they're really great to start seeds in and to give plants a good start. 

Here's one little sapling growing amongst some parsley and a good sampling of weeds! 

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Original Cottage

The old house here is one of the three oldest in the Southbridge village, built in 1879 when it was still a fledgling town on the Canterbury Plains.  

Southbridge was on the "bullock trail" which went from Timberyard Point on Lake Ellesmere across to Dunsandel and the nearest railway tracks.  The bullock teams hauled timber which had been floated across from the sawmills at Little River.   Some of this same timber was used to build the original Manson house at Bridgefield Farm at Lakeside.  

This house at Southbridge however is concrete block and was bought by my maternal grandparents in the 1940's.  My mother Edna spent her teenage years here after they shifted down from Milltown.  We shifted here when I was 5 years old from Sundowner Cottage, half way between Leeston and Southbridge.

Speaking of bullocks - my paternal great-grandfather John Manson had driven 16 bullock teams in Australia for some time while en route to New Zealand from Six Road Ends in Northern Ireland.  There is an old family story of how when he and his wife Martha were finally settled in at Lakeside on their farm that Martha had one of her best petticoats hanging out the back of the house on the clothesline drying when a rogue bullock team which had been passing along the nearby track with the driver ran away onto their place and through their backyard. One bullock ended up with Martha's best petticoat caught in it's horns and was last seen running towards Southbridge with my great grandfather running after it at his wife's urgings desperately trying to retrieve the petticoatDespite what must have been the shock of it Martha was still the first person in Canterbury to live to be 100 years old, surpassing her mother who lived till she was 98 years old.

Below : I think this may have been in the 1880's. 

Below : Perhaps the 1890's or early 1900's?

Below: 1970 after my parents bought the property from my grandfather.  My brother Allan is at the front with Tiny his dog, I am in the centre and my sister Shirley is on the right with my pet lamb Sally.

Below : 1970 in colour.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


There are quite exciting times ahead as my present one-room, semi-self contained cottage is altered and extended quite considerably.  At the end instead of one large cabin-style room I will have a kitchen-dining-living area, two bedrooms, one bathroom-shower-toilet area, a jewellery studio and a lot more storage room.   In fact I will have a LOT of room compared to what I have now, which will be quite blissful in one way, even though there are some nice things about living in a smaller space.

This is the kitchenette down one end of my present cottage which the lovely Andrew installed for me a few years ago but it will soon be on the move and incorporated into the rebuild.

Usually I float between this place and the main house a lot.  It's close by and the kitchen there is quite large which makes it a lot more conducive to activities like preserving. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Decision Making

It's easy to get into the habit of procrastinating.  Very often this is because we're scared of making the wrong decision.  Often however it's the lack of a decision which is the worst outcome of all.  Getting past the fear of making the wrong decision seems like a critical skill to have.

We can never be 100% sure a decision is going to be right, no matter how much information or experience we have.  As the old saying goes, "life is risky".  It's all risky. 

I find it more helpful to think, "This is the best decision I can make right now" knowing that inevitably it will sometimes be the wrong decision - and accepting that.  A wrong decision may sometimes bring some regrets but that's part of life.  It's still way better than the alternative - paralysis by analysis. 

Taking time to reflect is good if it 
leads you to better decisions.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Weird Weather & The Old Oak Tree

It's 10 June and the leaves are still on the old oak tree. It was 19C today continuing the very strange weather patterns we have been experiencing.  Right now many people are enjoying this unseasonal "good weather" in the first month of winter but I think it is a cause for concern.  

What will next summer bring? One thing is for sure, the times they are achangin'.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Cats

On a cold winter's evening Leonardo is in for the night, tucking himself up inside an eiderdown. 

A few weeks back a second wild kitten turned up at our place, not long after Tabitha appeared.  This thin, scared little creature was another tabby.  We took him in and he's grown up and out and now sleeps with Tabitha on or in Grandfather's bed.  I named Leonardo after Leonardo da Vinci but every young person who meets him thinks he is named after a turtle!  Oh well, in honour of teenage, mutant, ninja turtles we christened our second tabby cat Raphael (or Raph for short). 

Saturday, 4 June 2016